Yard Appeal for Selling Success

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Almost everyone knows great curb appeal is a major come-on in selling a house, but some of the projects that inspire the biggest oohs and aahs in a yard – an all-sod lawn, mature trees, water features and fancy outdoor kitchens – can add up quickly.

Yet, there’s so much that can be done to make a landscape appealing both to potential buyers and for the homeowners themselves at an affordable price point.

Here’s a round-up of suggestions to consider as days grow longer and flowers pop out their colorful heads:

Get a snapshot of what looks good and what doesn’t
Sometimes it’s hard to be objective about your own property. Doug Burnett, president at Burnett Realty in Des Moines, Iowa, thinks the best way to see your front yard clearly is to head to the street and snap photos. You can head to the farthest point in the back yard to do the same.

“The photos will show you what’s really there - such as toys all over the yard, dead grass patches, a fence tilting, old beds filled with weeds and thinned out mulch,” he says. Walks and driveways with cracked pavers and missing gravel are additional eyesores. Tackle problems first - before you add anything new, he adds.

Incorporate a variety of elements
Just as you tweak or remodel your indoor rooms to include all the essentials, do so outside. Burnett says most buyers look for a lush green lawn; bushes and trees with different textures and heights and also some that remain green all year; handsome hardscaping for walks and the driveway; some color from flowers and berries; an architectural feature or two such as a gazebo, pergola, fireplace or fire pit, fence, bench, bird feeder and maybe a water feature. A water feature needn’t be big and expensive. Something as simple as a sculptural heron or other bird that recirculates water will look nice and add a pleasant sound.

In making selections, pay attention to scale, color and texture; and have some be able to do double duty for cost effectiveness. The number of flowers and bushes, for instance, should relate to the scale of the house, its style and price and shouldn’t be too elaborate or colorful, or they might resemble a shopping mall’s landscape rather than a residential one.

Spruce up an area for outdoor living
After remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, one of the best investments homeowners can make is to fix up an existing outdoor living area, such as a deck, patio, terrace or screened porch.. Besides being sure the area looks neat and clean-sometimes by repainting, re-staining or at least power washing the surfaces to get rid of mildew and dirt, be sure all its furnishings look new. Complete the setting with the same accessories you use indoors - rugs, cushions, pillows, candles and lighting - but ones that will stand up to temperature changes.

Remember lighting as the finishing touch
Lighting is among the most underutilized but highest payback features you can install, says Burnett, and it’s another relatively inexpensive addition these days. He suggests up-lighting a few trees and corners of the house rather than lighting everything so it resembles an airport runway. He also suggests putting the lights on timers or motion sensors for the biggest cost savings.